This post was written by guest blogger Carrie Frye.
James Hynes has a new book out, called Kings of Infinite Space. I spent Saturday reading it and can report it’s marvelous. Dark and funny and well paced. If you liked Publish and Perish, youâ€™ll get down with this one too.
If you haven’t yet read Publish and Perish, and you’re frequenting a website like this, go out and get it immediately — it’s that good, I promise — and then read Kings of Infinite Space. There’s a pleasing progression between the two books. (I was a little disappointed by Hynes’ third book, A Lecturer’s Tale, which got bogged down in its own fantasia near the end. Still very funny in bits, though.)
The year my second book, Publish and Perish, came out, I took a job as an office temp for a large Texas state agency, working for eight dollars an hour. This was one of the inevitable low points on the sine wave of my career, a boring day job being the default mode of a midlist writerâ€™s livelihood. Still, I had never worked in an office before, and the experience was more exotic than humiliating.
Within a day of finding myself in a cubicle for the first time in my life, I was taking notes like an anthropologist about the strange folklife of the office — PowerPoint, anyone? Secret Santa? — and within a week I was planning to write about it.
Hynes also proposes an interesting link between Kafka and Poe:
I’ve always thought of them as peas in a pod: heat up Kafka’s prose a little and you get “The Premature Burial” cool off Poe’s just a bit and you get “In the Penal Colony.” Kafka was a gothic modernist, after all, and Poe was alienated before alienation was cool. But the main thing they share is a bleak sense of humor. I realize neither is generally thought of as a laffmeister, but the idea behind “The Metamorphosis” is fundamentally a comic one, with a fair amount of flat-out slapstick in its execution. And Poe’s best-known stories are basically sick jokes — “The Cask of Amontillado” is a pretty funny story, really — and I can see as if in a mirror the mischievous grin he wore as he wrote.